Congenital Infections

congenital infections

One of the most common causes of birth injury that occurs during a pregnancy is the substandard treatment, or the lack of treatment, of maternal infections. Based on the complexity of the placenta and umbilical cord, which are responsible for the transmission of nutrients, and oxygen, there are certain infections that may also be transmitted during the pregnancy that can be spread from you during the delivery process as your baby passes through the birth canal. The treatment of these various infections is critical to prevent your baby from being harmed.

While not all injuries can be attributed to negligence, there are some that undoubtedly were caused by needless medical errors. With this consideration in mind, you should realize that what happened to your child is not your fault. If negligence is potentially at issue in your case, it should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Mothers and children deserve better, and that’s why Stern Law, PLLC is here to help. Please call (800) 462-5772 for a free review of your case.

Common causes of peripartum birth injuries

There are many different infections, and they have different risk factors that require specific medical interventions. Some infections, such as toxoplasmosis, are only a threat if you contract it during your pregnancy. If you acquired it before you became pregnant, then it may not be a threat to your baby because he or she is protected by your immunity. However, if you are infected before your pregnancy, physicians must still take appropriate measures to ensure your baby’s safety.

Physicians need to be aware of all of the health risks of each infection and respond accordingly. The review of your situation must include whether you developed an infection during you pregnancy that placed your unborn baby at risk. Infections may be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic.

Common congenital infections

Certain types of infections, including those with viral and bacterial origins, may be passed in utero to an unborn child, infecting both a mother and her baby. If not treated, the following infections can lead to problems in fetal development and even death:

  • Toxoplasmosis – This infectious disease is caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii. Although most individuals do not experience any symptoms, the disease can be very serious, and even fatal, in pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems;
  • Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) – This is the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles;
  • Measles;
  • Mumps;
  • Rubella;
  • Epstein-Barr Virus;
  • Mononucleosis;
  • Encephalitis;
  • Meningitis;
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – This condition can also be passed to a child during delivery when the fetus makes contact with the birth canal;
  • Human Parvovirus;
  • Hepatitis;
  • Influenza;
  • Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus – This rodent-borne viral infectious disease presents itself as a brain infection, often mimicking meningitis and encephalitis.
  • Arboviruses – Hosts such as birds, rodents and pigs carry these types of viruses, which are then transferred to mosquitoes that feed on them. Thus, humans are more prone to infection if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common forms of arboviruses that are transmitted via mosquitoes are as follows:
    • West Nile Encephalitis – The origin of this form of encephalitis derives from the West Nile virus, which was first isolated back in 1937. West Nile Virus can cause severe inflammation of the brain and spinal cord in humans;
    • La Cross Encephalitis – Although rare, roughly half of those infected with this condition die or suffer from severe brain damage. Most people infected by this condition are children younger than 16 years of age and also, who preside in the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. Of the 80 to 100 cases reported each year, about 1 percent die as a result of this infection;
    • St. Louis Encephalitis – Encompassed with a viral strain known as California encephalitis, this viral infection affects approximately 102 people each year in the United States. Most outbreaks occur in the Midwestern and Southwestern regions, with the last reported epidemic occurring in the Midwest in the mid-seventies. The disease usually affects adults, but can manifest in children in milder forms;
    • Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)– According to the Center for Disease Control, there have only been a few cases of this type of encephalitis reported since the early 1960s. This disease typically is found along the East Coast and in the Gulf states of the United States. About 90 percent of people infected with this disease are affected mildly. However, those that contract a severe form of the infection may suffer from severe brain damage and paralysis. Of those afflicted with a more severe form of EEE, approximately 50 to 75 percent die following infection;
    • Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE) – Since the early 1960s, there have been about 639 confirmed cases of this infection. However, only a few are currently being reported each year in the United States. The disease usually manifests in the Western regions of the United States and parts of Canada. Infants who contract this disease are most at risk for serious complications, such as seizure disorders and developmental delays;
    • Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) – This virus is found mainly in Central and South America. However, some cases are reported in the southwestern portion of the United States each year. This infection is generally less severe than both WEE and EEE, and tends to develop a flu-like illness in adults. Children however, tend to develop more serious conditions, including overt encephalitis following exposure to VEE;
    • Japanese Encephalitis – This virus accounts for 15,000 deaths each year and manifests mostly in parts of Southeast Asia, China, and the Indian subcontinent. Rarely, Americans have contracted the disease when traveling to Asia or while engaged in active military service in the region.

Perinatal infections

The following types of infections typically pose the greatest risk of transmission to a child during labor and delivery, although some may affect your child while in utero:

  • Herpes Simplex Virus – There are two forms of HSV – HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is the cause of cold sores that manifest in the mouth and on the lips. HSV-2, however, is a more severe form of herpes simplex virus that causes lesions on the genitals of those infected. Once inside the body, HSV travels throughout the nerve fibers and can cause swelling and infection in the brain;
    • HIV;
    • AIDS;
    • Syphilis – A child may be infected with this disease during pregnancy;
    • Chlamydia;
    • Gonorrhea;
    • Group B Streptococci.

If undiagnosed or untreated infection caused serious injury to your child, please contact Stern Law, PLLC for a free review of your case. Call (800) 462-5772 to speak to an attorney who can answer your questions.

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